I cannot believe it has been two years already since being the 2011 Distinguished Young Woman of New York. It was this time of year during senior year of high school that I had visited a Boys and Girls Club here in Buffalo to remind children to be the best versions of themselves each and every day. The Be Your Best Self program allows each participant to reach out in her community to encourage others to reach their goals and be their best selves in five areas. The five elements to being your best self are be healthy, be studious, be responsible, be involved, and be ambitious. During my year as the title holder, I modeled my event after the Wizard of Oz. I was Dorothy and I had my friends each dress up as specific characters that corresponded to a different element. I took the boys and girls down the yellow brick road to discover each character as a be your best self element to eventually discover that all of the elements together complete your best self.
It was this past week in being reminded of the National Be Your Best Self week that I realized now more than ever that I need to be cognizant of how these elements fit into my daily life. In being a college student with filled days of endless homework, activities, and very little sleep, it is hard to balance a healthy schedule. So this week as each day was a different element, I stressed to revaluate my schedule and how I can make these last few weeks of school some of my very best.
It is important to be healthy not only with food choices, but also with sleep and exercise. All three go hand in hand to give you the energy to take on the day. Sometimes we often do not listen to our bodies especially with sleep, and it causes us to not always be alert. I always feel good when I have had a good nights rest and great workout to release all my stress and energize my body for what ever is going on that day. After all, being healthy makes you feel better and look better.
Being studious means more than just showing up to class and doing your homework. It is asking your teachers for help when you have questions on the material and forming study groups with friends. It is important to have good time management with classes, especially in college because the work load adds up and being on top of things allows you flexibility. Being studious also means not giving up especially when you fail. It is important to keep trying your best and spending the proper amount of time on the material in a class that may be challenging. Remember, it is not always about the grade, it is about doing your best and feeling that you have performed to the best of your ability.
Be responsible means that you are taking responsibility for your actions. You are standing by your moral and ethical principles and not allowing anyone to change your mind. That can be hard at times especially when no one is watching and you are more willing to compromise. For example, it may be easier to get a homework assignment done by copying it from someone else, and sure it may get done faster, but is that the right thing to do? It is important to be a role model for others and do what is right even when it may be inconvenient. Remember to stand up for what you believe in, even when you may be standing alone. When you stand up for what matters most to you, others who are watching gain the courage to stand up for what they believe is right too.
In today’s world many of us are engrossed in our own lives and rarely reach out those around us. From personal experience I know how hard it is to put down my phone and focus on homework for an hour as my iPhone is ringing with updates about Facebook and Twitter, and texts from friends. It is important to be involved and step out in the community to serve others in need. What I find most rewarding is the feeling you get from helping others. I love working with children and I previously volunteered in the ER at Children’s Hospital to entertain the children waiting to see the doctor. The smiles on these children’s faces when I would visit and spend time with them doing arts and crafts or reading stories was infectious. The feeling is absolutely indescribable, but heart-warming when it is there. I encourage you to go out into the community to help those in need and give of yourself. What ever your God given talent is, weather it be singing or patience to sit with others, share it with someone. We need to open our eyes and look beyond ourselves to make a difference in the world. Not only will you feel good, but what you do has an impact on the person you are serving and truly changes the way they feel. Even something as small as a kind smile can make someone’s day brighter. Just think of all the potential you have to change someone’s life for the better.
My favorite element is be ambitious. Each day I look at the goals I have set for myself, both small and large. It is amazing when I take a step back and see all that the world has to offer me. I set high goals for myself because I believe that I have the ability to work hard enough and achieve anything I can imagine. It is important to write your goals down because then they serve as a constant reminder of what you are looking to achieve each and every day. So set goals for yourself which can even be as small as doing the dishes without being asked. Setting goals allow us to work toward a better version of ourself, it allows for success and continued growth each and every day.
I challenge you to evaluate yourself in each of the five elements and work towards a better version of yourself. Each day has the ability to be better than the last, so why not make it?